Despite the inherent value of dune ecosystems for both human society and biodiversity, the relevant habitats have been subject to a long history of unsustainable exploitation and mismanagement. This is mostly due to a general lack of awareness about the environmental problems associated with coastal dunes, which include habitat loss, spread of invasive alien species, and degradation due to tourism and recreational activities as the main threats. As a consequence, both dune biodiversity and related ecosystem services are negatively affected, with the result that the resilience of plant communities is decreased and native species are threatened.
The LIFE REDUNE project’s overall aim is to restore and maintain the ecological integrity of a full set of dune habitats listed in Annex I of the Habitats Directive, along with the populations of Stipa veneta, an endangered plant endemic to the dunes of northeast Italy, which is listed in Annex II of the directive as a priority species for conservation. The objective is to guarantee the ecological restoration of the coastal dunes of four Natura 2000 network sites along the North Adriatic coastline. For this purpose, 91.5 ha of shifting dunes will be restored using natural engineering techniques and around 82.3 ha of transition and fixed dune habitats will be restored and duly managed. The habitat restoration process will be facilitated by the planting of 151 000 native plants (including 1 000 belonging to the Stipa veneta species) and the removal of invasive alien species (e.g. Oenothera stucchii). Additionally, 985 m of boardwalks and 9 300 m of fences will be built to regulate public access to the beaches. This is expected to favour the habitats’ natural dynamics and recovery; and to mitigate the risk of negative interference by people, combined with networking and communication actions.
Expected results: The restoration of 91.5 ha of sandy coastal dunes, including five habitats of EU interest, of which three are priority habitats. Specifically: